One of the things I hate most about clichés is that whenever I experience milestone experiences, I have to admit they are true. There’s nothing unique or original about my feelings except that they are mine.
So, when I witnessed my daughter Samara turn 18, my mind and heart flooded with trite and corny thoughts and emotions: “Where did the time go?” “How did the little girl who needed me to kiss away her boo-boos and bad dreams turn into an independent young lady eager to leave the nest?”
My chest fills with pride as I acknowledge the fine woman she has become, yet my heart aches as I mourn the loss of all the previous Samaras stored in the archives of my memories — the baby, the toddler, the pre-teen, and the petulant adolescent.
I know I have to accept a more limited but still important role in her future – to encourage, support, and, where possible, facilitate these hopes and blessings:
Samara, always believe in yourself. Trust your instincts and pursue your dreams.
Know that you are smart enough, strong enough, and good enough to endure any setback and find a way through or around any obstacle.
Be careful. Recognize and resist temptations. Build and protect your character and your reputation.
Nurture your ability to feel and express gratitude, to forgive yourself and others who let you down, and, above all, to give and receive love.
Fill your life with good people and your mind with positive thoughts.
Go forth and pursue your destiny.
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At my daughter’s bat mitzvah years ago I offered the following longer blessing. Perhaps you will find some use for it.
May you always believe in yourself.
Never doubt your worthiness or your capacity for achievement, endurance, and growth.
In all that is important to you, persist with confidence that you are smart enough and strong enough to find a way through or around any obstacle.
Never be without hope, for within you is all you will ever need.
And never doubt that you are truly lovable; don’t worry about the approval or affection of any who are unworthy of appreciating who and what you are.
May you always be honest.
Be honest with yourself and others. Stay true to your beliefs.
Don’t resort to or rely on deception or concealment.
Safeguard your integrity, build your credibility, always be someone who can be trusted.
May you feel and express gratitude, giving it freely but never needing it.
Appreciate people and the good things in your life. Gratitude isn’t a debt to be paid but a key to a treasure chest filled with the fullness of life.
Give without need or expectation of approval or gratitude. Cherish every moment of happiness and never let unkind or ungrateful people harden your heart or ruin your day.
May you be resilient.
Learn to control your attitudes and you will control your life. Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. Never extend suffering by giving in to self-pity.
Resolve to bounce back from every setback.
Don’t surrender to the idea of failure; it’s a myth. You will never fail as long as you recover and learn.
Never doubt that your focused will is enough to overcome disappointments, frustrations, and even great tragedies.
May you always love.
Know that your heart may be wounded from time to time but that it will always heal if you have the good sense to love yourself.
Safeguard the part of you that is loving, compassionate, and generous.
Choose to be kind even to those who don’t seem to deserve it and even when you’re not in the mood.
Don’t let grudges or resentments ruin important relationships or harden your heart. Let the bad things go.
Truly forgive others, not only for them but for you.
May you be happy.
Remember, happiness is always within your grasp. You will be as happy as you are willing to be.
Don’t confuse happiness with pleasure and never underestimate the lasting joy of feeling worthy.
Find meaning and purpose in love and service, knowing the happiness that comes from making others happy.
Finally, my dear Samara, may you find a life mate who appreciates you, is patient with you, and loves you as I do — completely and forever.